About this painting:
The subject is a very old photograph that shows a father with his son on his shoulders, a timeless gesture of an intimate connection between the two, a hierarchical connection to be sure, with the son on top, time on his side.
The photo caught my attention and touched me with its succinct articulation of a primal condition between parents and off-spring, but fathers and sons in particular.
When I ran across it on a book cover in a second had bookstore the image haunted me until I went back and bought the book. When I began to paint it I hardly knew why. The subjects, I found out, were Russian and I think I wanted to make some kind of icon to a timeless and holy thing:
The total trust of the son in the security of his father's shoulders as he stares out, with curiosity and equanimity from his great height.
The father feeling love but no burden or resentment with the tiny boy, his joy, astride his neck, seeing beyond what he can see, literally and figuratively.
As it happens the small boy in the photo became the famous Russian writer Maxim Gorky. The photo was taken shortly before his father died of cholera after nursing his three year old son back to health. If you are interested in the penetration of that little boy's gaze I highly recommend reading “My Childhood” by Maxim Gorky.